Yesterday, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee lifted the ban on gay groups marching in the parade.
In past years, gay people could march in the world’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but they were not allowed to carry signs identifying them as a group.
In recent years, as public attitudes have shifted, parade officials have encouraged gays to participate in the parade but have stubbornly clung to their prohibition on banners and signs identifying LGBT groups.
The historic move comes after years of controversy.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a very Irish-Catholic tradition that started in the nineteenth century when Irish immigrants wanted to show their pride in being Irish.
Everybody had a good time, whether they were Irish American or not, and at the end of the parade route, thousands of marchers gathered in the bars on the Upper East Side to continue the celebration.
But the Catholic Church regards homosexuality as a sin, rather than a natural occurrence, and that led to the ban on gays openly marching in the parade.
In 1993, Mayor David N. Dinkins boycotted the parade after widespread protests after parade organizers won a court battle to exclude a group of openly gay Irish-Americans from marching in the parade.
Last year, Guinness beer dropped its longtime support for the event over concern about the policy.
Ireland’s most famous Gay, Oscar Wilde, would be happy.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Last March, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first mayor in 20 years to refuse to march in the parade, and de Blasio threatened to boycott the parade again if the ban wasn’t lifted.
But the real pressure this year came from NBC Universal, which has broadcast the St. Patrick’s Day parade nationwide for years.
OUT@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support group for employees of NBC Universal, had applied for permission to march in the parade openly.
NBC executives told the Parade Committee that NBC was prepared to drop its coverage of the parade unless a compromise was reached to include gay groups in the parade.
Yesterday, the parade committee, issued a statement to The Associated Press, that OUT@NBCUniversal, would be allowed to march up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on March 17th under a banner identifying itself as an LGBT group.
A spokesman for the parade committee also said that in future years other groups will be free to apply to march in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Another age has been turned in the quest for equality by the LGBT community.